Polity & Governance
- Government has no direct role in Lokpal selection: Centre to SC
- South India’s First Children’s Court Inaugurated in Hyderabad
- NHRC registering more cases, says there is more awareness
- Provide loans to women SHGs at 7 per cent: RBI to banks
- Banks to issue Masala bonds, RBI opens currency markets
Environment & Ecology
- BEE announces new star rating methodology for Air conditioners
Defence & Security Issues
- ‘Cybercrimes have risen 4-fold in 3 years’
Key Facts for Prelims
- New brand ambassador for the BBBP
- Port Victoria
- Durand Cup
Polity & Governance
Government has no direct role in Lokpal selection: Centre to SC
The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it has no role in recommending the names of any sitting or retired Supreme Court judges or Chief Justices of High Courts as judicial members of Lokpal.
What’s the issue?
- The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) was responding to a PIL plea filed by NGO Common Cause claiming that the entire selection process for Lokpal is “illegal” and smacks of “conflict of interest.”
- The Lokpal rules underwent a course correction in 2014 under which the government had notified amendments to the rules, giving autonomy to the Lokpal search committee to shortlist and recommend names independently for selection of Chairman and members of the anti-corruption body.
- Under the amended provisions of the Rule 10, it is for the Search Committee to decide how to make selections, and the role of the Central Government, under the amended sub-rule (2) of Rule 10 is now limited to providing ‘such assistance as may be required by the Search Committee.
- The Central government will not have any role in inviting applications or nominations from any quarter.
Now, what will the search committee do?
- The search committee will shortlist and recommend names to the selection committee, which is to be headed by the PM, and will include Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition or Leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by him, and a jurist nominated by the President on the basis of recommendations of the first four members.
South India’s First Children’s Court Inaugurated in Hyderabad
Giving a push to fast disposal of cases related to children, South India’s first Children’s Court was inaugurated in Hyderabad.
- After Goa and Delhi, Telangana has become the third state to have a child friendly court and sixth in the country.
- The Children’s Court has features like separate waiting rooms for children and a video camera trial for the accused, mandated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act-2012.
Key features of the Children’s Court:
- The child (witness/victim) will be allowed direct interaction with the judge, while the accused (who will be at a different location) will be able to view and hear the proceedings via two-way video conferencing in the courtroom.
- A two-way video communication system, allows the child witness to identify the accused on camera. This also enables the judge to ask questions to the child and the accused without any physical interface.
- The judge and the police personnel will be in plain clothes in the children’s court and unlike a normal court set-up, the child will not be allowed to come face to face with the alleged offenders to make sure he/she is not intimidated while the court proceedings are on. Thus, providing a non-threatening atmosphere.
- Since the court will not handle any other cases other than those relating to children, the volume of casework will be much less, enabling quicker disposal of cases.
- POCSO stipulates child-friendly court rooms be put in place across all states at the earliest in the interest of children in need of care. However, such courts are currently functional only in two states – Delhi and Goa.
NHRC registering more cases, says there is more awareness
Data from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) showed that cases registered by the NHRC have gone up over the past three years, but those where monetary relief was recommended have in fact declined.
Key analysis of the data:
- The cases where relief was recommended fell 26% from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016. For the same time period, the number of cases registered by the Commission rose 20%.
- According to NHRC officials, there are several reasons behind fewer cases ending with monetary relief. Some cases were taken up by the courts or State human rights commissions, others were closed or disposed off for lack of a clear offence being established.
- Complaints where someone lost their life or was hurt were clearer cases of compensation. Four types of complaints – custodial death (judicial and police), death in police encounter and alleged fake encounters – accounted for almost 2% of cases lodged in 2015-2016, but 35% of cases relief was granted.
- Over the three years, cases related to the police remained the top contributor to the NHRC’s load, accounting for 30% of total cases registered in 2015-2016.
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted in 1993.
- It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).
- Recommendations given by NHRC are just advisory and not binding in nature.
- NHRC submits Annual report to the Central government and to the concerned state governments.
The NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) consists of:
- A Chairperson, retired Chief Justice of India
- One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
- One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
- Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
- In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of (1. Minorities 2. SC and ST 3. Women) serve as ex officio members.
The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
- The Prime Minister (chairperson)
- The Home Minister
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (House of the People)
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People)
- The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
Powers and Functions:
The NHRC has the following functions:
- To investigate complaints regarding the violation of human rights either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
- To investigate the failure of duties on the part of any public official in preventing the violation of human rights.
- To intervene in any judicial proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights.
- To visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government to see the living conditions of the inmates and to make recommendations thereon.
- To review the safeguards provided under the constitution or any law for the protection of the human rights and to recommend appropriate remedial measures.
- To study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and to make recommendations for their effective implementation.
- To undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
- To encourage the efforts of the non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights.
- To spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and to promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other means.
- To review all facts related to the activities of the terrorists which obstruct the way of the protection of human rights and to make recommendations for their effective implementation.
Provide loans to women SHGs at 7 per cent: RBI to banks
The RBI asked banks to provide loans up to Rs 3 lakh at 7 per cent interest rate to Women Self-Help Group (SHG) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)-Aajeevika scheme during 2015-16.
- The revised guidelines on interest subvention scheme under NRLM has been issued after approval from the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.
Who will be the beneficiary?
- All women SHGs will be eligible for interest subvention on credit up to Rs 3 lakhs at 7% per annum.
Who will be exempted?
- SHG availing capital subsidy under Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) in their existing credit outstanding will not be eligible for benefit under this scheme.
- The banks will lend to all the women SHGs in rural areas at 7 per cent in 250 districts.
- All banks will be subsidised to the extent of difference between the weighted average interest charged and 7% subject to the maximum limit of 5.5% for the year 2015-16.
- This subvention will be available to all the banks on the condition that they make SHG credit available at 7% annually in the 250 districts.
- Further, the SHGs will be provided with an additional 3% subvention on the prompt repayment of loans.
About National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)-Aajeevika:
NRLM-Aajeevika was launched by the Union Ministry of Rural Development in June 2011.
- It seeks to enable rural poor (below BPL) to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.
- It is the largest poverty reduction initiative and the largest programme for women in the world with its goal to reach out to nearly 70 million rural households.
- In November 2015, it was renamed Deen Dayal Antayodaya Yojana (DAY-NRLM).
- The Mission aided by World Bank aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor.
Banks to issue Masala bonds, RBI opens currency markets
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a slew of changes in fixed income and currency markets such as allowing lenders to issue ‘masala bonds’ and to accept corporate bonds under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF).
- These measures are intended to further deepen market development, enhance participation, facilitate greater market liquidity and improve communication.
- The measures accept many of the recommendations made by HR Khan Committee.
Currently, masala bonds can be issued only by corporates and non-banking lenders like, HFCs and large NBFCs.
- The RBI will allow commercial banks to issue rupee bonds in overseas markets — known as Masala bonds, both for their capital requirement and for financing infrastructure and affordable housing.
Partial Credit Enhancement (PCE):
- It has been decided to enhance the aggregate limit of partial credit enhancement (PCE) provided by banks.
- The aggregate PCE that will be provided by the financial system for a given bond issue will be increased from the present level of 20% to 50% of the bond issue size, subject to the PCE provided by any single bank not exceeding 20 per cent of the bond issue size and the extant exposure limits.
- It has also been decided to seek suitable legal amendments to enable it to accept corporate bonds under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
- To enhance participation in the corporate bond market, the RBI has decided that brokers authorised as market makers will be allowed to participate in the corporate bond repo market.
- This measure is expected to meet their funding and securities requirement arising out of market making activities. Currently, banks, primary dealers, mutual funds, insurance companies are only allowed.
- In addition, foreign portfolio investors have been allowed to transact in corporate bonds directly without involving brokers.
- In order to ease access to the foreign exchange market for hedging in over the counter (OTC) and exchange-traded currency derivatives, the RBI has allowed entities exposed to exchange rate risk, both resident and non-resident, to undertake hedge transactions with simplified procedures, up to a limit of $30 million at any given time.
- A working group will be formed to review the guidelines for hedging of price risk by residents in the overseas markets.
Open position limit:
- Banks can also allow the customer an open position limit of up to $5 million.
- This is intended to improve liquidity and depth in the foreign exchange market and the limit will be revised from time to time.
- With an aim to reduce risk in banking sector, RBI has also proposed to limit exposure of a bank to a business group to up to 25% of its capital, down from the existing 55%.
What are Masala Bonds?
Masala bond is a term used to refer to a financial instrument through which Indian entities can raise money from overseas markets in the rupee, not foreign currency.[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment & Ecology
BEE announces new star rating methodology for Air conditioners
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has introduced a new star rating methodology called Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) for air conditioners.
- This evolved rating methodology factors in variance in higher temperature in India and rates air conditioners accordingly.
- Consumers can now purchase air conditioners with higher ISEER leading to lower electricity bills.
Key features of the ISEER:
- Keeping the performance of air conditioners during higher temperature in mind, ISEER will address the different climatic zones in India and higher temperature.
- ISEER measures energy efficiency of air conditioners based on a weighted average of the performance at outside temperatures between 24 and 43-degree C based on Indian weather data.
- Star rating is given to manufacturers based on the test results provided by them as tested on the above standard.
- BEE continuously tightens the standards such that, the Star-5 in 2010 became Star-3 in 2015 and will become Star-1 in 2018 as per new ISEER methodology.
- Ratings based on ISEER have been introduced on a voluntary basis for Variable Speed (Inverter) Air Conditioners since June 2015 and proposed to be merged with fixed speed air conditioners in the mandatory regime from January 2018.
- Some of the leading manufacturers have already adopted the rating for inverter air conditioners.
- Since 2010 Bureau of Energy Efficiency has mandated air conditioners as a mandatory-labelled appliance under Energy Conservation Act and since then air conditioners cannot be sold without star label.
- Now as per latest notification, from January 2016, Star-2 is the least efficiency level to be sold in the market, hence variation in power consumption is compared between Star-5 (most efficient) and Star-2 (least efficient) air conditioners.
- BEE is working on adding LED bulbs, geysers and cars to the list of items requiring compulsory star rating.
- Air conditioners in India have hitherto been tested under the IS 1391 at a standard operating conditions of outside temperature of 35-degree C.
Defence & Security Issues
‘Cybercrimes have risen 4-fold in 3 years’
According to a joint study by PwC and Assocham, the number of cybercrime cases registered in India has risen by 350% in the three-year period from 2011 to 2014.
- The study is titled ‘Protecting Interconnected Systems in the Cyber Era’.
Key findings of the study:
According to the study,
- Cyber attacks around the world are occurring at a greater frequency and intensity.
- A new breed of cyber criminals has now emerged, whose main aim is not just financial gains but also causing disruption and chaos to businesses in particular and the nation at large.
- Attackers can gain control of vital systems such as nuclear plants, railways, transportation or hospitals that can subsequently lead to dire consequences.
- In the past, attacks have been mostly initiated from countries such as the U.S., Turkey, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Europe, and the UAE.
- However, with the growing adoption of the Internet and smart-phones, India has emerged “as one of the favourite countries among cyber criminals.”
- In the U.S. alone, there has been an increase of nearly 50 per cent in reported cyber incidents against its critical infrastructure from 2012 to 2015.
Key Facts for Prelims
New brand ambassador for the BBBP
Woman wrestler Sakshi Malik, who won a bronze medal in the Rio Olympics in Brazil, will be the new brand ambassador for the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'(save daughters, teach daughters) campaign in Haryana.
In a demonstration of India’s commitment to its ties with Seychelles and maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval Ships Kolkata, Trikand and Aditya have arrived at Port Victoria on a two-day visit.
Victoria or Port Victoria is the capital city of the Seychelles and is situated on the north-eastern side of Mahé island, the archipelago’s main island.
Durand Cup is a prestigious football tournament conducted in the country. It was instituted in 1888 at Shimla by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand. It is the oldest tournament in Asia and third oldest in the world after Football Association Cup of England and Scotland Football Association Cup.
The Defence Services have been associated in organizing Durand Football Tournament right from its inception.
128th Edition of Durand Football Tournament is scheduled from 28 Aug to 11 Sep 2016.